back to article SerenityOS: Remarkable project with its own JS-capable web browser

SerenityOS, which started out as a one-man project in 2018, has now got to the point where its creator proudly announced that its web browser passes the Acid3 browser test. This is a remarkable achievement for a relatively small, hobbyist project; SerenityOS list hundreds of contributors on its GitHub page. Acid3 is relatively …

  1. frankyunderwood123

    "Just for fun"

    ... I guess that depends on what you count as being "fun".

    I'm sure it's an incredible achievement - but hell, its "just for fun" for the creator - the idea of dicking about compiling this and getting it running, to end up with an OS about 90% less capable than what I currently use, is not something I would call "fun".

    I mean, I get it - working with code can be cool - just the achievement in terms of the hours of sweat and horror spent, when you finally make a breakthrough, is often worth it - because developers are masochists.

    For the developer, the learning process has almost certainly increased their skill set dramatically - for most of the rest of us, "That's nice, well done. Moving on now...."

    Unless, of course, you are into making your own OS - in which case, if you are in that niche market, this is probably the most exciting project ever.

    I do wonder, however, whether that time would've been better spent, improving the offerings we already have.

    But hell, people spend their time in all sorts of incredibly weird ways, so who am I to judge?

    /me heads off to sort collection of gravel by size, date and appealing textures...

    1. heyrick Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: "Just for fun"

      Holy shit. Are you like the biggest Grinch this side of Christmas, or what?

      Yes, there are loads of things that could count as being more deserving. To that end, what are we all doing buggering around poking keyboards? Go train as a nurse, there's a pretty good chance that your health service really needs you...

      Otherwise, some projects are done simply because they can be, because they bring enjoyment, or allow one to put their thoughts in line (you did read the article, right?) and if all that effort is only really of use to them . . . so fucking what? Come back when you've single-handedly written a browser. Because, man, I wouldn't even know where to start. I'd imagine "wrote my own OS, wrote my own browser" might not look too bad on a CV, eh? And as the article says at the end, this sort of thing is how Linux started. Hell, probably a lot of stuff. Somebody has an idea and gets to work, then... magic happens.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Just for fun"

      "I do wonder, however, whether that time would've been better spent, improving the offerings we already have."

      I nominate that as the new slogan for Microsoft's entire development division.

      Otherwise, meh, people do what they do. I build guns for fun - some people (and not just my wife) would find that pointless, possibly even offensive. Some people watch massive amounts of TV every day. Some people raise venomous snakes or bugs. Some people keep up with politics like their life depends on it. I know all those other people are wrong, and should do something useful with their time, but my voice carries no weight in their worlds.

    3. John Sager

      Re: "Just for fun"

      But why not? It's true that the landscape is a bit different from when Linus started. OSs then we're rubbish (MS, Mac) and proprietary (I was using SunOS4 professionally, never did move to Solaris), so there was a lot of pull to get something better.

      Now we have Linux which has penetrated all fields except the desktop, so it's a big mountain to climb to think about replacing even a minor part of its user space. Nevertheless there must be areas where even Linux isn't optimal so there is room for innovation. Whether that comes from a happy accident hobbyist off the wall thing or a focussed commercial project who's to know?

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Falmari Silver badge
      Happy

      Having fun is time well spent

      @frankyunderwood123 "I do wonder, however, whether that time would've been better spent, improving the offerings we already have."

      Better for who?

      Personally I find having fun, the best way to spend my time. Having fun is time well spent.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Having fun is time well spent

        And why not? It's why I design processors from discrete logic, and it's also why I leap off tall mountains attached to a paraglider... each to their own, and kudos to this guy!

    6. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: "Just for fun"

      I do wonder, however, whether that time would've been better spent, improving the offerings we already have.

      Apart from having fun, proving it can be done, improving your skillset, an exercise in learning, and so on, the problem with improving offerings we already have is that they often don't want to be improved because they do things their way... until, of course, they see things can be done better elsewhere, then they may consider doing the same thing themselves.

      So I'm all for Serenity, helloSystem, BSDs, and so on showing there are better ways to do things.

    7. AMBxx Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: "Just for fun"

      It's comparable to people who have old cars or like to work with wood using just hand tools. An enjoyable hobby even though it can be done more easily with modern stuff.

      It's not something that interests me but that doesn't mean it shouldn't happen.

    8. Lazlo Woodbine Silver badge

      Re: "Just for fun"

      With regards to pointless, "just for fun" projects, I'm writing a novel, it's about 350,000 worlds long at the moment, with perhaps another 40k to go.

      No-one but me will ever read it, because not a single publisher would look twice at a book this length from an unknown author, but I'm having a ball living my characters' lives.

      So yeah, pointless and fun can coexist on the same plane...

      1. Helena Handcart

        Re: "Just for fun"

        "With regards to pointless, "just for fun" projects, I'm writing a novel, it's about 350,000 worlds long at the moment, with perhaps another 40k to go."

        So you just have the final rooftop showdown to go?

      2. eionmac

        Re: "Just for fun"

        Your novel. Publish to us readers of The Register via an e-book or PDF, some may read it, some may like it. Some may even thank you.

      3. CommonBloke

        Re: "Just for fun"

        Self publish on Amazon, maybe separate a number of chapters into different books. Unless you only want an actual print, then that's going to be much harder to achieve without any previous recognition.

    9. Mike 125

      Re: "Just for fun"

      >just the achievement in terms of the hours of sweat and horror spent, when you finally make a breakthrough, is often worth it - because developers are masochists.

      Sounds like you just hate fun. Sheldon would be impressed.

      Sometimes, I get paid learning how *not* to do things i.e. 'improving' (fixing) other people's garbage. But that's no fun.

      The fun is doing it right in the first place. And that's often in my own time.

    10. Smeagolberg

      Re: "Just for fun"

      >but hell, its "just for fun" for the creator - the idea of dicking about compiling

      >this and getting it running, to end up with an OS about 90% less capable

      >than what I currently use, is not something I would call "fun".

      I wonder what your technical background is...

      Marketing Bullsh*t Creator? IT Sociology Journalist?

      I'll give the benefit of the doubt and assume you do comprehend actual technology and the value of fun and were just having a Friday moment.

      I vaguely remember the Desmond Morris book, The Naked Ape. One of his points was that playing and childhood last for far longer amongst humans than other species and that could be related to why their brains developed so much further.

  2. karlkarl Silver badge

    "plus a desktop that's reminiscent of NT 4 – before the rot started to set in with Windows 98's Active Desktop."

    So bloomin true! Since the Windows UI has rotted into dust by now, SerenityOS is probably now decades ahead in terms of usability and intuitivity.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      This. A Windows NT4 / 2000 GUI is looking very tempting right now as I continue to do battle with Windows 10.

      Mind you, we can take nostalgia too far. I fired up my old Amiga workbench environment under AmiBerry on my RPi 400 the other day. It's hooked up to my distinctly modern-era super-wide monitor. Workbench is NOT particularly usable at 3440x1440 - I had to drop down to 1280x1024 before it began to be so!

      1. karlkarl Silver badge

        I do regularly use NT4 (Terminal Server) in Qemu for Rational Rose UML tooling and find it superior to the host. In some ways I am tempted to turn the whole setup into a glorified text editor to do more of my work in. Similar to Inferno to access the Plan 9 Acme text editor.

        Also, in many ways I do find that recent UI systems simply becoming larger to take up the same percentage of room on recent monitor resolutions is also a bit self-defeating. Surely designers can do better than that!

  3. HildyJ Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Creativity is King

    This is what FOSS was all about when it started - making something new 'just for fun'.

    I doubt Linus was shooting for the commercial possibilities of Linux and I don't doubt Linux would look different if he had.

    Good creatives, developers, writers, artists, musicians actors,, whatever, start doing what they do 'just for fun' (and often hear the advice 'don't quit your day job').

    So kudos (but not a pint) for Andreas who has not only reached a creative milestone but also quit his day job.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Definitely cool. I'm somewhat puzzled as to the linkage between the OS and the OS's "own" browser. Generally any OS can run any browser - I guess there are some special relationships, e.g., iOS/Safari. Android/GoogleChrome - where there may or may not be opaque special connections. What the special relationship here?

    1. Antartica
      Boffin

      AFAIK, they implement everything from scratch (i.e. SerenityOS doesn't use libraries implemented by other projects, such as libfreetype).

      That makes every step a rather big accomplishment, and ensures every feature of every library is tailored to the OS needs. Also makes the project a lot more coherent than, for example, a "cobbled up" Linux distro.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >Generally any OS can run any browser

      On the contrary, the browser is a core part of any modern kernel and cannot be separated from the OS or replaced by any other browser - signed B. Gates

  5. Binraider Silver badge

    Obligatory TempleOS shoutout; for it’s C variant and C64-like behaviour.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Particularly tailored for the insane...

      1. Binraider Silver badge

        Possibly why it appealed to me!

  6. John Sager

    Where is the low end for Linux?

    There must be a point where even Linux is too heavy for the job. I've just built a digital graphic equaliser on a STM32 SoC and I used FreeRTOS to schedule stuff. Now that SoC (STM32H753) hasn't really got the facilities to run Linux so is there a gap for something a bit more sophisticated than FreeRTOS, other than Zephyr, that will run on SoCs with small memory and basic MMUs?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Where is the low end for Linux?

      NuttX?

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Where is the low end for Linux?

      There's https://www.fuzix.org/ which is available for the Pico (only one CPU though).

      http://cowlark.com/2021-03-10-fuzix-pi-pico/index.html

    3. G40

      Re: Where is the low end for Linux?

      See https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/rtos/. Used to be threadx IIRC.

  7. msobkow Silver badge

    They say you aren't a real programmer unless you've written an OS, language, and/or database engine... this guy is on the road to making that all three for shits and giggles (he's done THREE languages with the DOM, CSS, and Javascript parsing.)

  8. cheb

    How soon will Serenity's year of the desktop be, 2025 maybe?

    Joking aside, as one who struggles to get linux code to do what I want even when cut and pasted from a known working solution I'm hugely impressed by people like this

  9. Daniel von Asmuth

    Incredible

    ...to have come so far without begin sued by Microsoft Corporation.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Incredible

      So not a 'real' OS yet !

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